Volkswagen Reveals Jetta TDI Pricing
VW has made big bucks in fuel crises past by offering diesel options where others had none. And though Wolfsburg has always charged a premium for its oil-burners, cheap-and-cheerful was the name of the TDI game back when it took an OPEC embargo to make Americans think about efficiency. Well, the 70's are over, man. VW's new Jetta TDI starts at $21,990 for the sedan, and $23,590 for the wagon. Er, SportWagon. That's five large more than a base sedan, and a $4,500 premium for the wagon. And not only are VW charging more for their diesels, they're also hyping non-EPA mileage ratings to claim 38/44 mpg in city and highway driving respectively. If, for some crazy reason, you want an apples-to-apples comparison to any other product on the market, the EPA ratings that everyone else seems to live with rate the Jetta TDI at 29/40 mpg. Factor in the fact that diesel prices have doubled in most markets over the last year, and you have a spin-free idea of how economical VW's TDI offering really is. Though the acolytes of Rudolph Diesel claim that battery replacement costs for hybrids give the TDI an edge, those costs are going down , while diesel prices continue to climb in most areas. The TDI will still serve well in those coastal enclaves where "powered by biodiesel" and grateful dead-affiliated bumper stickers offer TDI owners social status commensurate to the price premiums they paid. Otherwise, this baby has been priced right out of the market.
I also expect VW wagons will be mostly TDI for the simple reason they currently have close to a monopoly on passenger Diesels. It is almost the only reason to get a VW IMO. I just want an efficient 4cyl gasser. I drive under 6000 miles/year. So I will be looking at much less expensive Honda fit or similar most likely (depends when something major goes on my current ride). The price difference between Hybrids or Diesels and a Honda Fit means the premium would never be made up in fuel savings. The TDI wagon is a good choice for those who think they need a SUV. Lots of cargo room and economy.
You cannot single out VW for charging a premium for diesel engines. Sure, short of an E320 Bluetec, there are no other new passenger car diesels besides VW. However, Benz and the Big 2.8 all charge varying (thousands of $) premiums for diesels. I have not given a circumspect consideration to the cost benefit of a VW diesel, but I did compare a 4.7L V8 Grand Cherokee to a 3.0L CRD Grand Cherokee. My findings? With the premium of diesel fuel over good old 85 octane combined with the $1,800 of the diesel engine option, plan on spending 15 years with that rig before you see it saving you money.